The Pittsburg State Gorillas have a very unusual name indeed; sportsmen and women representing the Pittsburg State University in collegiate level sports are known by this unusual moniker. As a matter of fact, ‘Gus’ as the team’s mascot is known, is the only gorilla to be a mascot for a college sports team in the United States. This iconic mascot was adopted in the 1920s in order to help build team spirit and foster a spirit of competition it has been an important part of the university sports teams since 1985.
Gus has always been part of the Pittsburg State sports teams’ recipe for success. The ferocity of an adult wild gorilla was supposed to inspire the team to strive for success every time they went out in the field. Gus was given a more benign appearance as the years passed but was eventually changed to the current form in 1985. Today, there is nothing cartoonish about Gus who has the intelligent and ferocious looks of a real gorilla. The current depiction of Gus Gorilla dates to 1985 and was designed by L. Michael Hailey.
The sports teams of Pittsburg State University take part in Division II of the NCAA. They are also part of the MIAA (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association). The University has men’s and women’s teams for basketball, cross country and track and field. In addition, it has men’s teams for baseball, football and golf. It also has women’s teams for softball and volleyball.
The sports program at Pittsburg State University puts a great deal of emphasis on identifying athletic talent and nurturing it. Not only does the university have expert coaches and support staff for all of its teams but it also gives ample focus on nutrition and strength training in order to build high quality athletic teams. The program gives a lot of emphasis to avoiding injuries as well as to injury rehabilitation.
The Gorillas enjoy a great deal of support not just from University students but also from local residents in Pittsburg, Kansas. It is a very common sight to see large crowds turning up to cheer the Gorillas when they take on their opponents. There is immense demand for clothes, banners and memorabilia featuring the team mascot.
As athletic programs are very costly, the university has the Pitt State Athletic Fund which helps underwrite sports scholarships and other expenses related to the university’s many sports teams. The university approaches fundraising in a systematic manner with all activities being co-ordinated by an umbrella organization so that efficiency can be maintained. The annual Gorilla Gala gets a lot of participation. Also, the university sports effort gets a lot of support from local businesses and corporate bodies.
The Pittsburg State Gorillas are very visible on the university sporting circuit and they have earned a very good reputation for themselves. Both the men and women athletes (incidentally the women are known as the Gussies) put in a lot of sustained effort to achieve excellence on the sports ground.